May 31, 2006

ADL: a civil liberties group?

Unbelievable! One of the most dishonest zionist lobby groups in the USA has been described by the Guardian as a "civil liberties group." Look at these opening paragraphs:
A powerful American civil liberties group has called on US academics to boycott British lecturers who boycott Israeli universities.

In a backlash following this week's vote by the lecturers' union Natfhe to boycott Israeli academia, the Anti-Defamation League urged American universities and grant-giving bodies to "cut funding, support and contact with any academic who advocates a boycott of Israel."
And here's how it ends:
Leading American opposition to the proposed British boycott, the Anti-Defamation League's stated aims are to stop "defamation of the Jewish people" and "secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike".

Often undercover, it tracks groups it considers extremist, anti-semitic and racist. It has been accused of deflecting criticisms of Israel by labelling them anti-semitic.
What gives the game away as far as the deflection of criticism of Israel goes is the ADL's more than passing flirtation with various antisemitic Christian zionists in America. There's also the little matter of of the ADL honouring Silvio Berlusconi within weeks of him having praised Mussolini:
Berlusconi uttered his controversial remarks just three weeks before the ADL dinner. Defending the regime of Mussolini against comparisons to Saddam Hussein, Berlusconi said Mussolini — Adolf Hitler's chief ally and ideological mentor — had been a "benign" dictator. "Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini sent people on holiday in internal exile."
Does honouring someone like that leave the ADL's civil libertarianism open to question? I'd say so but then look at this again: "often undercover, it tracks groups it considers extremist, anti-semitic and racist." Now look how this undercover stuff works:
A lawsuit accusing the Anti-Defamation League of spying on local activists -- the last court action stemming from San Francisco police raids on the Jewish organization's office 10 years ago -- has been settled for $178,000, lawyers said yesterday.

The money will be divided among the remaining three plaintiffs in a suit that was filed in 1993 by 19 people, all involved in pro-Palestinian or anti- apartheid activity. At the time, Israel was an ally of South Africa's white- supremacist government, and the ADL's chief intelligence-gatherer in the Bay Area, Roy Bullock, later admitted he was also being paid by South Africa.

The suit claimed the ADL, founded almost 90 years ago to combat anti- Semitism, was working to suppress domestic criticism of Israel by compiling dossiers that it shared with police, the Israeli government and its own supporters. The ADL denied providing information to Israel and said it was legally monitoring hate groups and political extremists.

After Bullock and a San Francisco police inspector were seen talking to South African agents in 1992, police seized more than 10,000 files from the two men and ADL offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The files contained information on organizations and individuals at both ends of the political spectrum.

The inspector, Tom Gerard, later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of illegally accessing government information that he allegedly supplied to Bullock.

The ADL settled a suit by the city of San Francisco and another filed by political activists in Los Angeles, but the suit by Bay Area activists -- Arab Americans, Jewish dissidents and anti-apartheid organizers -- was delayed by years of wrangling over access to ADL files, which had been quickly sealed.

Along the way, a state appellate court endorsed the organization's argument that, as the publisher of reports on extremist groups, it acts as a journalist,

with the right to protect its sources. But the court kept the case alive by saying activists had the right to learn the sources of government documents that may have been used illegally.

"The league feels vindicated in the positions it took.
Vidicated? How did this "civil liberties" group get to feel vindicated?

Lee Kaplan Watch! or is it Campus Watch Watch?

There's a blog that's just been brought to my attention. It reports on the antics of a Campus Watch activist, Lee Kaplan. Here's his own take on the blog named in his honour:
Links are to various Jewish groups. Masada2000 and JDL are not on the state department's list of terrorist organizations, Kach is. ISM is on the offical list of terrorist groups according to the Israeli government by the way. I realize you are 18 and somewhat immature. Although these things take time for me to pursue you may find yourself regretting this the rest of your life if you don't stop now. Take my name off the site, you can refer to my articles and I will be happy to debate with you. However, the site is an attempt to smear me personally in my work and personal reputation. Just because nothing has happened yet does not mean it will not in the future. Your references will all face legal action down the pike as will you. Now, if you want to grow up and discuss the issues, I will be happy to.
As of January 2009 the blog now seems to have been taken over by Lee Kaplan himself.

Alan Dershowitz: plagiarist, liar and racist

and that's just what a zionist calls him. A chap called Alex Stein has a useful critique of Alan Dershowitz's The Case for Israel on his blog, False Dichotomies. It's from October 2005:
It is extraordinary that somebody with such an extensive resume, such a reputation, and such obvious intelligence can produce a book full of so many obvious flaws and still be applauded for it. This could be explained away by the fact that, when dealing with the Middle East conflict, people often suspend all rationality. It is worth, in the case of leading American lawyer Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel, looking past such easy explanations, especially when there is a tremendous validity at the heart of his enterprise, “a defence – not of every Israeli policy or action, but of its basic right to exist, to protect its citizens from terrorism, and to defend its borders from hostile enemies.” Amen to that. However, unfortunately this justification soon turns out to be merely a disingenuous attempt to return us to the days of the classical Zionist myth, when Israel is always the victim, when all its government’s policies are an attempt at securing a fair peace, and when the Arabs are unrelenting in their pursuit of Israeli lives. In critique of Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel, then, I hope to make my own ‘case for Israel’.
Perhaps the "case for Israel" is a work in progress for Alex as he doesn't actually do that in this post.

So, to the plagiarism:
Many accusations of plagiarism have been levelled at Dershowitz over the book. It is not worth getting into details of these here, but it is important to note that many of the historical ideas seem literally lifted wholesale from classic works in the Zionist-apologist canon, for example Joan Peters’ debunked work, From Time Immemorial.
Next up, Alex deals with the persistent false allegation of antisemitism:
“when the Jewish nation is the only one criticized for faults that are far worse among other nations, such criticism crosses the line from fair to foul, from acceptable to anti-Semitic.” Of the particularities in this claim, more later. For now, it is important to note that it is unclear whether inclusion as an ‘accuser’ in one of Dershowitz’s chapter headings means that he considers you an anti-Semite. After all, he cries out “When the best is accused of being the worst, the focus must shift to the accusers, who I contend may be guilty of bigotry, hypocrisy, or abysmal ignorance at the very least. It is they who must stand in the dock of history, along with others who have also singled out the Jewish people, the Jewish religion, the Jewish culture, or the Jewish nation for unique and undeserved condemnation.” Thus the usual suspects of Edward Said and Noam Chomsky become anti-Semitic by default, as well as Christopher Hitchens Rabbi Michael Lerner, the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, Member of Knesset Azmi Bishara, and Yael Stein of the leading Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem. While Dershowitz does not explicitly call (most of) these figures anti-Semitic, by defining the ‘accusers’ as he does, he certainly opens the door for their inclusion as Jew-haters. This, of course, is not backed by any real evidence of anti-Semitism.
And then from sheer dishonesty to racism:
Despite trying to create the impression of being a fair advocate for Israel who is not averse to criticism, Dershowitz sometimes crosses the line from dishonesty to crude stereotyping which verges on racism. We have referred above to Dershowitz’s comments on the families of suicide bombers. In a similar vein, when defending home demolitions against the charge of collective punishment, he writes “Even when it is clear that no one is inside, the inevitable picture of the crying woman bemoaning the loss of her home creates sympathy, even if that same woman was yesterday encouraging her son to become a martyr and tomorrow will be cheering at the news of an Israeli restaurant being blown up with a dozen teenagers.” Dershowitz is largely correct in noting that the bulldozers make sure the people are out of the house before going to work (although there have been enough exceptions to be ashamed of), but this should not detract from the fact that survival must seem scant consolation when you are witness to your home being destroyed. More importantly, however, Dershowitz’s derision of the crying woman again assumes that the family members of suicide bombers are always to blame, and also forgets that it is not only the families of suicide bombers who are victims of home demolitions. Take what happened in Rafah recently, for example. I wonder what he thought of Tommy Lapid’s (Israeli Justice Minister) comments. Unlike Dershowitz, Lapid did not see the eyes of a prime supporter of terrorism in the ‘crying woman bemoaning the loss of her home’. He was reminded of the eyes of his grandmother under Nazi occupation.

This libelling of the Palestinian people extends to the more progressive elements within the their leadership.
In the course of his critique of Dershowitz, Alex has a nice little swipe at Ariel Sharon:
Dershowitz recognizes that Abu Mazen desires a fair two-state solution, but makes the error of implying that Ariel Sharon does as well. Sharon still wants to eventually annex as much of the West Bank as possible, and the Gaza disengagement proposal fits in with this plan. He is not willing to even consider any settlement that would remotely satisfy the most legitimate of Palestinian demands.
But having said he would put his own case for Israel, Alex ends his piece not quite as promised:
If Dershowitz had been serious about his laudable aims, he would have maintained some form of critical angle. In reality, there is none. Israel is never to blame; anything that looks like a mistake can be explained away by the fact that it remains a teething democracy. Dershowitz is really trying to stifle dissent, both from within and without. His primary ire is targeted at those he perceives as anti-Zionist, but progressives within the Zionist ranks are tarnished along the way. The time for trying to win the historical battle should be over by now. There is a more important battle to be fought, a battle for peace, for pressure to be placed on the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to pursue a path of peace. This is never done by apologising for its wrongful actions. It can only be done through constant self-criticism and reform. In doing that, we would be making a stronger case for Israel than any lawyer could.
And yet we are not making a case for Israel here. Perhaps that's for another post on Alex Stein's False Dichotomies.

UPDATE: Alex has asked for an amendment as follows: I deliberately said 'verged on racism' - so I'd appreciate if you made that clear. My piece about his 'The Case for Peace' is here.

Perhaps if Alex read the Jewish Chronicle report a few weeks ago of Dershowitz telling SOAS students that the Palestinians have to take some responsibility for the holocaust on account of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem's collaboration with Hitler he might take the view that Dershowitz has crossed the verge and gone full blown.

May 30, 2006

Dershowitz caught lying again

Norman Finkelstein has caught Professor Alan Dershowitz lying again.
When the latest Harvard plagiarism scandal broke, an article in the Harvard Crimson [the Harvard daily newspaper]listed Dershowitz as among those recently charged with plagiarism. Dershowitz immediately fired off a letter to the Crimson denying the allegations and claiming that Harvard Law School chief librarian Harry Martin had confirmed they were "baseless." Although professors and university administrators are known to habitually lie librarians usually hold themselves to a higher ethical standard, so I contacted Martin. He unsurprisingly denied ever having asserted the allegations were "baseless" or for that matter ever having even examined the charges and countercharges. I then brought this to the attention of the Crimson which printed a more or less accurate correction in its 26 May issue:
The May 5 letter to the editor "Plagiarism Accusations Unfairly Characterized" by Alan M. Dershowitz, Frankfurter Professor of Law, incorrectly implied that Harry S. Martin '65, the Ess Librarian of Harvard Law School, dismissed charges of academic dishonesty against Dershowitz as "baseless." While Martin has said that he validated the acceptability of certain methods of citation that Dershowitz used in his book, he has not attempted any comprehensive review of [Beyond] Chutzpah.
Here's Dershowitz's letter:

To the editors:

In her comment, "One Week Later" (Apr. 28), Lauren Schuker wrote that I "recently stood accused�of academic dishonesty." The crucial fact that Schuker fails to mention is that I was innocent of that politically motivated charge and was so found after a thorough investigation, which I requested. Several distinguished individuals who examined the accusations including former Dartmouth President James O. Freedman, former Solicitor General Charles Fried, and the head of the Harvard Law School library Harry S. Martin �65 also dismissed them as baseless.

The charges were part of a politically motivated campaign by a hard-left, anti-Israel academic who was falsely charging "plagiarism" against me and several other pro-Israel writers. The false charge was that I found several quotations by Mark Twain, Lord Peel, and others in a secondary source, but cited them to the primary sources in which they originally appeared. That is the citation method approved by The Chicago Manual of Style. Moreover, I cited the secondary source eight times and was using several of the quotes years before the secondary source was even published. I can document highly visible anti-Israel writers who have done exactly the same thing I was accused of doing, but were never accused of plagiarism by my biased accuser.

Plagiarism is a serious charge. It should not be trivialized by failing to distinguish those who are innocent of it from those who have admitted to it.


Cambridge, Mass.

May 1, 2006

The writer is Frankfurter Professor of Law.

And here is Finkelstein's brief letter to the Crimson:
To the editors:

Alan Dershowitz dismisses allegations of plagiarism on the grounds that I am a “hard-left” academic (“Plagiarism Accusations Unfairly Characterized,” letter, May 5). I understand neither what this means nor its relevance: the basis of rational inquiry is the merit of an argument, not its provenance.


Chicago, Ill.

May 8, 2006
I think Finkelstein's been very kind to the Crimson. Look at the correction again. "Alan M. Dershowitz, Frankfurter Professor of Law,incorrectly implied that Harry S. Martin '65, the Ess Librarian of Harvard Law School, dismissed charges of academic dishonesty against Dershowitz as "baseless."" "Implied?" Look at what Dershowitz actually wrote. "Several distinguished individuals who examined the accusations including former Dartmouth President James O. Freedman, former Solicitor General Charles Fried, and the head of the Harvard Law School library Harry S. Martin �65 also dismissed them as baseless." That's not implying something; that's saying it straight out. So, not so much implying as lying.

The case against Alan Dershowitz by Sabby Sagall

Sabby Sagall has a letter published in today's Guardian supporting the NATFHE Israel boycott motion. I just googled him and not many sites came up but the first one was an article by him critiquing, well demolishing, Alan Dershowitz's oxymoronically titled The Case for Israel:
At a time of deepening political and moral crisis, not only for the Israeli government but for the entire Zionist project, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has produced a book purporting to set the record straight by rebutting all the accusations leveled against "the sole outpost of liberty and democracy in the Middle East." The structure of each chapter is based on a defense lawyer�s submission to a court, a statement of the charge against the accused (Israel) followed by the defense counsel's repudiation backed up by counter evidence. However, using dubious methods of historical scholarship, the book is shot through with falsification through omission and will convince only the ignorant or the gullible.
The whole article is on Logos here.

Letters on the NATFHE boycott

There are a crop of letters for and againt the NATFHE Israel boycott in today's Education Guardian. Here are the pro-boycott ones:
Natfhe's inspiring and historic decision, in the context of the growing international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions, will effectively contribute to the civil struggle aimed at ending the Israeli occupation and other forms of oppression of the Palestinians, by attaching a considerable price tag to Israel's unrelenting disregard of international law.

The truth about the collusion of Israeli academic institutions in maintaining Israel's colonial and racist policies has come out, despite all attempts at suppressing debate and bullying critics of Israel. Indeed, Israeli academic institutions have consistently condoned, even encouraged, the work of academics who advocate ethnic cleansing, apartheid, denial of refugee rights, and racial discrimination against the Palestinians. Collaboration with the intelligence services and the occupation regime is part of the routine work of the Israeli academy.

Sanctions and boycotts are morally and politically sound tactics which, in the past, succeeded in bringing down the apartheid regime in South Africa. They can also be used to challenge Israel's impunity and its exceptional status as a state above the law.
Lisa Taraki, Omar Barghouti
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Imad Oudeh
Union of Al-Quds University Teachers

To link the issue of boycotting Israeli universities implicated in the occupation of Palestine with the ongoing industrial action being undertaken by the AUT represents a narrow political vision and the failure once again to "take a stand" against one of the most reprehensible regimes in the world today. How cynical to suggest that academics can only take on the big political questions of our time only if our own unity is secured. Further, to cast the issue of the boycott as one of academic freedom is to deflect discussion from the real question at stake - what is the responsibility of academics in states following illegal and murderous policies of occupation and colonisation? The letter writers cast Israeli academia as spaces of democracy. Yet, apart from the likes of Ilan Pappe and a few others, how many Israeli academics have openly denounced their state's policy? Why do they demand impunity for their complicity in this longstanding violation of international law?
Dr Rashmi Varma
University of Warwick
Dr Subir Sinha
University of London

Israel is not a "normal" democratic society in which the rulers have had to accept that far-reaching political dissent or class conflict be part of the state's ideological framework. It is a settler-colonial society with a much greater degree of social cohesion. Therefore the question why Israeli academic institutions should be boycotted and not necessarily those of other societies with poor human rights records is wide of the mark. In most such societies, there are usually many dissident intellectuals who tend to suffer the same repression meted out to ethnic or political minorities. Not in Israel. There, academic institutions are part of the structure of the illegal, colonial occupation. It is right that the boycott should go ahead until Israeli universities decide to support the campaign for an end to the occupation.
Sabby Sagall
There's also a Guardian article on the boycott vote here and an Independent one here.

NATFHE supports boycott

The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) passed the following motion today
Conference notes continuing Israeli apartheid policies, including construction of the exclusion wall, and discriminatory educational practices. It recalls its motion of solidarity last year for the AUT resolution to exercise moral and professional responsibility.

Conference instructs the NEC to facilitate meetings in each university and college, and to circulate information to Branches, offering to fund the speakers' travel costs.

Conference invites members to consider their own responsibility for ensuring equity and non-discrimination in contacts with Israeli educational institutions or individuals and to consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves from such policies.
Needless to say, Engage aren't exactly cock-a-hoop about this.
The first two paragraphs were passed overwhelmingly. The last paragraph was passed with 106 votes in favour, 71 votes against and 21 abstentions.

This motion was passed without a democratic discussion of the university and college teachers that Natfhe represents. It was passed by a small number of Natfhe activists.

This is a political victory for supporters of a blacklist against Israeli academics.

Natfhe will cease to exist on Wednesday when it merges with AUT and the Natfhe leadership stated that the blacklisting policy will not bind the new University and College Union.

UCU must state clearly on Wednesday that this policy does not have any standing in the new union.

AUT members, following debates in the colleges and at Council overwhelmingly rejected the boycott last year.
I wonder how many of the delegates read the Engage site. I wrote before that I hoped they would read it because I'm sure it would push people into the pro-boycott camp to be exposed to some of Engage's antics.

May 29, 2006

Rachel Corrie and the F-word in Private Eye!

Goodness! F**K appears twice in the letters page of the latest Private Eye and both times in response to a letter from yet another lying zionist.

Let's take a look at what happened here. Apparently the peace activist Rachel Corrie who was murdered by an Israeli bulldozer driver was described in Private Eye as a peace activist who was murdered by an Israeli bulldozer driver. Well this simple statement of truth was too much for a zionist to bear so Natalie Smith wrote the following:
How could you describe Rachel Corrie as a "Peace Activist" in issue 1157? She was killed whilst attempting to block an IDF bulldozer which was trying to uncover tunnels used by Hamas to smuggle weapons. But I suppose the image of a white blond American being killed by the big, bad Jew is always going to be a lot more appealing than the truth.

Other than that, you do a wonderful job. Ignore the old fart in your last issue who wanted to change your magazine to make it more "Yoof" friendly. I'm 22 and have been an avid reader for nearly five years. It's a magazine, not a fashion statement.
Natalie Smith
Hitchin, Herts
Well that pack of lies was too much for some and three letters have now been published to put the readers straight.

Natalie Smith's letter (Eye 1158) disputing that Rachel Corrie was a peace activist had me scratching my head. After all, Rachel Corrie was an activist with the International Solidarity Movement, a peace activism movement which engages in non-violent protest over Israeli presence in the West Bank. As for blocking an IDF bulldozer that was "trying to uncover tunnels used by Hamas to smuggle weapons", what the IDF's statement actually SAID was that it was searching for terrorist booby-traps and never officially that it was looking for a tunnel; and last I heard the building in question was later demolished and the IDF discovered no tunnel OR booby-traps, and no evidence of a previous tunnel. Whatever the IDF's plans, it is extremely unlikely that Rachel Corrie blocked the bulldozer because SHE believed that there was a Hamas weapons-smuggling tunnel and wanted to stop the IDF finding it.

None of this leaves me bothered as much as the "being killed by the big bad Jew is always going to be more appealing than the truth" line, insinuating that the Eye has an anti-Semitic agenda because it described a peace activist who was killed by an IDF bulldozer as - gasp! - a peace activist.

I'm failing to see the prejudice against Jews there, especially when the Solidarity Movement was co-founded by an Israeli Jew. Or are we to assume any criticism of Israeli military and political actions is due to anti-Semitism?....


....Natalie Smith, (Private Eye, 1158), asks how you can call Rachel Corrie a peace activist and claims that the bulldozer which killed her, was trying to uncover tunnels used to smuggle weapons.That's curious, I thought it was about to destroy the home of a Palestinian doctor! And of course it was an accident, as Israeli bulldozer drivers can't see fluorescent jackets!

Judging by what Ms. Smith calls the truth, it would appear that her sources are the very honest, reliable ones of the Israeli Embassy! I would suggest she instead, starts to look at reports from human rights activists working on the ground such as the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

There she will learn that over 12,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished since 1967, many in the course of Israel's collective punishment policy and to make way for the separation barrier and illegal Settlements.

She may be interested to know that last year, I organised and sang in the World Premiere of Philip Munger's classical cantata for Rachel Corrie,'The Skies are Weeping'. Many of the organisers, donors and audience members were, like myself, signatories of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, who object to Israel's brutal occupation of the Palestinian territories.....

DEBORAH FINK[That's the first F blank blank K]

....Rachel Corrie was trying to protect the home of pharmacist Samid Nasrallah when she died. The Israeli Defence Force eventually demolished the house in January 2004. Stopping an army from destroying people's homes by getting in their way is non-violent peace activism, whether you agree with the reasons for doing so or not. Denigrating the dead is repugnant.

Natalie Smith is a fucking [that's the second] liar and I hope she burns in hell for her lack of humanity.

I think that pretty much sums things up.....

It's quite remarkable that there are zionists willing to tell such demonstrable lies when the truth is a matter of public record.

May 28, 2006

Stryngs at Stonewalls tonight!

Stryngs are appearing at Stonewalls tonight. It's the launch gig for their album Love and other vices.

Stonewalls is at 286 Lewisham High Street, LONDON, SE13 6JZ. Nearest station, Lewisham, BR and DLR.

Cost: Zilch, zero, nothing!

Starts 8pm.

Their site is here, their sounds are here and Stonewalls is here. But what is extreme psychiatry?

Gilad Atzmon, Linda Grant and the SWP

Well it's that time of year again. Marxism 2006 is almost on us and the SWP's resident jazz buff, Martin Smith, has yet again decided to embarrass SWP members and allies by inviting Gilad Atzmon. Last year when some members tried to persuade Smith to rescind the invitation to Atzmon he said that it wouldn't happen again and that Norman Finkelstein would be attending this year's Marxism or attending an SWP hosted event. He didn't. He and a chap called John McClaughlin also barred one of their own comrades from Bookmarks for talking to me and then the idiots told her that Roland Rance, Tony Greenstein and I were zionists and members of the misnamed Alliance for Workers Liberty.

A few of us at Jews against zionism have discussed this latest invitation and decided that Atzmon's buffoonery is so transparent that it's pointless doing anything about it. But what I did find interesting was Linda Grant's support, on the Engage site, for Atzmon's appearance.
Gilad Atzmon is best described by that well known medical term, 'a meshuggenah.' He's possibly one of the rare examples of someone who actually is a self-hating Jew. He's an apologist for the anti-semitism of 'Israel Shamir.' His political ideas are incoherent, and often racist.

Gilad Atzmon is also, apparently, a very great sax player, but even if he was a terrible one, I oppose cultural boycotts. I oppose any attempt to instigate a cultural boycott against Israeli artists and have written about this twice, on this site, at its inception, and on Open Democracy. I opposed attempts to prevent the staging of I Am Rachel Corrie at the Royal Court in London, and again in New York. I opposed attempts to prevent the screening of Paradise Now or its being nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar.

I'm opposed to cultural boycotts, full stop.

Dostoevsky was an anti-semite. Arnold Schoenberg was a supporter of Ze'ev Jabotinsky's far-right Revisionist Zionism, which was influenced by fascism. I revere the work of both of them. During his Reith Lecture, Daniel Barnboim said that no-one should force Holocaust survivors to listen to Wagner. But at the same time, Holocaust survoivors cannot prevent others from performing his works.

When Gilad Atzmon performs, he often riffs about his views on Jews and Israel. That's part of his performance. Some critics have assumed that he since he is an Israeli, he is 'making a plea for peace' or something like that. He isn't.

Atzmon should not be prevented from performing. What we should do is expose his ideas for what they are, so the audience is aware that what it's listening to is essentially race hate. And if Atzmon doesn't realise that this is what he's saying, that's his problem.

But no to cultural boycotts, of anybody.
Now this is dead peculiar because it is not a case of boycotting Atzmon or not. The point is whether it is appropriate for socialists and anti-zionists to host a known racist, not whether that racist should appear at all. Looking at her Wagner analogy, it's fair enough for Wagner to be performed, but would you want his work performed at an Anti-Nazi League rally? Don't answer that if your name's Martin Smith, Gilad Atzmon or Linda Grant.

Of course Linda Grant has an interest in the SWP shooting itself in the foot and in saying that she opposes "cultural boycotts," Linda Grant is only defending her zionist project under a guise of consistency but it shows a complete lack of understanding of what the objections to Atzmon actually are and why for example we at JAZ picketed Bookmarks when Atzmon was there but not Waterstones (a commercial book seller) when he was there. Also, in spite of the stab at consistency she is not being terribly consistent. This blog may not be as fine an example of culture as the cool jazz of Mr Atzmon, but blogging is a part of our modern cultural life and it seems to me like only yesterday that Linda Grant was threatening to have my entire blog pulled.

Arab Media Watch is back!

Arab Media Watch (AMW) is the leading UK based site for monitoring the media on Middle East issues. The site has been down for a long time now after having been hacked off of the net some months ago.

AMW was a major contributor to the recent report on the BBC's Middle East coverage.

Unreasonable reasoning?

May 27, 2006

Academic intifada II

There are two letters and an article in the Guardian today on the NATFHE proposal to boycott Israeli academia. The article is introduced on the front page with the misleading headline Academics support Israeli lecturers. The article itself (on page 6) is heavily tilted towards the zionist lecturers who have signed a petition opposing any boycott of Israeli academia. The headline there is Thousands of academics oppose boycott of Israel and is equally misleading because it fails to note that there are many thousands of academics who support the boycott proposal.

Anyway, the letters. The first (of course) is the zionist one. Signed by 599 academics from all around the world you can read it on the zionist Engage site. The second is the pro-boycott one and I post it here because it won't be doing the rounds nearly as much as the zionist one:
On behalf of organisations representing hundreds of academics throughout occupied Palestine, we applaud the British academics who have proposed a motion to boycott Israel. At this time of escalating colonial repression, coupled with a particularly inhumane and illegal siege, Palestinians will be eagerly following the deliberations of the Natfhe council.

Israeli academic institutions are implicated in the various forms of oppression. Israeli research institutes, thinktanks and academic departments have historically granted legitimacy to academics who advocate ethnic cleansing, apartheid, denial of refugee rights and other discriminatory policies against the Palestinians. Cooperation with the intelligence services, the army, and other agencies of the occupation regime is part of the routine work of the Israeli academy. No Israeli academic body has ever taken a public stand against the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, nor criticised their government's longstanding siege of Palestinian academic institutions.

The Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is endorsed by the most important associations of academics and professionals and is supported by dozens of civil society institutions in Palestine. Like Palestinian civil society's widely endorsed call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), it is based on the moral principle of the international campaign against South African apartheid: that people of conscience must take a stand against oppression and use all means of civil resistance available to end oppression.

We hope that Natfhe members will join the growing international BDS movement by showing that no business as usual can be conducted with the Israeli academy until it takes an unequivocal stand against the forms of oppression practiced by the Israeli state. Only that can give us hope for the realisation of justice, equality and genuine peace.
Gabi Baramki
Former acting president of Birzeit University; founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Muhammad Abuzeid
Director general, Federation of Unions of Palestinian University Professors and Employees
The idea of boycotting Israel is important because it stresses Israel's status as a pariah state like no other. It is a state based on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws.

I do hope that any academics considering opposing the proposal will have a good look at the Engage site. Look for their professed opposition to the occupation. That could take a while. They won't have to look for the smears about antisemitism. They are there for all to see. But a peek at the comments is a real eye-opener. There they will see the Engage groupies in all their glory, "contributing to the debate."

May 26, 2006

Discriminating against poor Arab children

Here's a quirky article in Ha'aretz. It exposes Israel's latest scam to discriminate against Arabs by force of its laws but then expresses support for the system that makes the discrmination possible.
The emerging coalition agreement between Kadima and United Torah Judaism includes one very strange element: The offered allotment of NIS 500 to families with four or more children will not be given to families that receive income maintenance payments from the National Insurance Institute. That is really a puzzle: Why should a payment intended for poor families with many children be denied to the very poorest families, those that receive income maintenance payments? After all, these are the very children who need the money most, and the child allowances that these families receive have been slashed sharply in recent years. And if the idea is that those who already receive substantial payments from the state should not get any additional funds, why should only those who receive income maintenance from the NII suffer, and not those who receive income maintenance payments from the Education Ministry?

And here is the solution to the puzzle: There are two types of families with many children in Israel - Arab and ultra-Orthodox (Haredi). The Arab families, if they need income maintenance payments, receive the ordinary NII stipend as long as they meet the criterion of proven inability to support themselves - in other words, if the parents cannot work or are unable to find work.

Haredi men, however, spend most of their parental years studying in yeshiva rather than in the job market. Therefore, they cannot meet the criterion of proven inability to support themselves. The state therefore found a way to pay stipends to avrechim (married yeshiva students) while bypassing the NII. In the past, the stipends were paid by the Religious Affairs Ministry; today, they come from the Education Ministry. Some 10,000 Haredi avrechim receive some NIS 950 every month. The sum is paid to any avrech with at least three children, regardless of the size of the stipend he receives from his yeshiva, as long as he (and his wife) earn no more than NIS 700 a month outside the yeshiva. In other words, this is essentially a stipend that encourages women not to work, or to work under the table.

This, therefore, is the meaning of the emerging agreement between UTJ and the coalition: Poor Arab families with many children will not receive the new payment (though wealthier Arab families actually will). But Haredi families with many children will receive it. Arab children will not benefit, but Haredi children will. It is impossible not to ask what exactly the people who reached this brilliant agreement were thinking. One can perhaps attribute the following cynical approach to Finance Ministry officials: The High Court of Justice will strike down the arrangement in any case, and then perhaps we will not have to make these payments. It is even possible to assume that some of the participants in the negotiations told themselves: "Why not try? At worst, the gambit will fail." What is impossible to understand is how they can live with themselves.

We used to have a child allowance that discriminated in favor of Jews. It was called the allowance for people who served in the army. As long as it was truly earmarked for former soldiers, it had a certain moral logic, even if it was also controversial. But as time passed, more and more Haredi families managed to obtain this stipend thanks to relatives who had served in the army, and in practice, the stipend became an allowance for Jews only. It was canceled in the mid-1990s. The idea of instituting an allowance for everyone except for poor Arab families undoubtedly sets a new record for creativity, chutzpah and shamelessness: discriminating against a child because he is Arab and poor.

The time has come for even Israeli politicians to understand: In a democratic country, there is no way to encourage birthrates among one ethnic group while discriminating against the children of another ethnic group. The demographic balance is indeed important, but equality is much more important. True, a person cares most about those closest to him, and the Jewish state prefers Jews by its very nature. It has many clever ways in which to express this preference, and it exploits them to the hilt. But at least on the official, declarative level, it must be clear that all children are equal: All poor children are equal, and all hungry children are equal - even if they are Arabs.
The complaint here seems to be that Israel is making its racism too obvious.

May 25, 2006

Christian zionist on Islamic "heresy" and Jewish "thrift"

From Media Matters for America here's Pat Robertson, a leading Christian zionist:
Summary: On The 700 Club, host Pat Robertson said "Islam is essentially a Christian heresy" that "picked up snippets of the gospels," and other Biblical texts and is now taking "everything that Jesus said" and "transport[ing it] into this fictional Mahdi." Robertson also perpetuated Jewish stereotypes in a discussion about the need for Israeli soup kitchens, stating that "When you think of Jewish people, you think of successful businessmen" who are "very wise in finance and who are prosperous." Robertson later added that "[i]t shocks people" to find out "there's poverty in Israel," because "Jewish people" are "very thrifty" and "extraordinarily good business people."
With friends like these......

May 24, 2006

Israel's "internal" ethnic cleansing

Thanks to Charlie Pottins for posting this Nation article by Neve Gordon to the Just Peace list.
The meeting's organizer, a coordinator from the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, asked our hosts to speak. One after another, the Bedouin men stood up to relate their personal stories. They all told of the state-sanctioned abuse carried out against their community. Injustice followed injustice to produce a merciless tale of expulsion, violence, repression and deception.

Ali Abu Sheita recounted how his parents had been torn from their tribal land and transferred to a barren region where for years they had had to walk fifteen kilometers with their camels and donkeys just to bring water to the village. Yet in the Jewish village nearby, Abu Sheita continued, pipes delivered water directly to every sink. Halil al-Aseiby pointed to the high-voltage electric poles just outside the shack, emphasizing the regulation that forbids "unrecognized Bedouins" from connecting their homes to the power grid. "Even people who need to keep life-saving medicine refrigerated do not receive an exception," he said. Another man suddenly waved a demolition order that was pasted on his "illegal" shack on April 25. "Any day now," he said, "the bulldozers might arrive."

These Bedouins are Israeli citizens just as I am; their only crime is that they are not Jewish.
It should be noted that this is happening within the pre-1967 boundaries of Israel.

May 23, 2006

CrimeanTatars, Meskhetian Turks and Palestinian Arabs: How are they related?

I just got this from this comment from a chap called Otto Pohl, referring to his blog "Otto's Random Thoughts.
So Today I got my proofs for an article that will appear in Human Rights Review next month. The journal is published by the philosophy department of Loyola University in New Orleans. The title of the article is "Socialist Racism: Ethnic Cleansing and Racial Exclusion in the USSR and Israel." The abstract of the article is below.

During the 1970s, both the Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks in Soviet Central Asia compared their plight to that of the Palestinians. The Stalin regime deported both the Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks from their homelands to dispersed settlements in Central Asia. The similarities between the Soviet policies of expelling and permanently excluding the Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks from their homelands and similar Israeli policies towards the Palestinians are not entirely coincidental. The Zionists based their mass expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948 and subsequent prohibition on allowing them to return to their homes in part on the Soviet model. The similarities between the two instances of ethnic cleansing are due in large part to this conscious emulation of Stalin's methods by the Zionists.

The growing pains of Israel, aged 58

I linked to this article before but I think it's highly significant that it appeared first in Ha'aretz and now in the Financial Times. Curiously, the FT has changed the title from the Ha'aretz one: The country that wouldn't grow up to Why Israel cannot always rely on America's helping hand. I wonder if they're telling their readers to divest from Israel.
By the age of 58 a country - like a man - should have achieved a certain maturity. After nearly six decades of existence we know, for good and ill, who we are and how we appear to others, warts and all. And though we still harbour occasional illusions about ourselves, we know they are, for the most part, just illusions. In short, we are adults.

But the state of Israel, which has just turned 58, remains curiously immature. The country's social transformations - and its many economic achievements - have not brought the political wisdom that usually accompanies age. Seen from outside, Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: confident of its uniqueness; certain that no one "understands"; quick to take offence, and to give it. Like many adolescents, Israel is convinced - and aggressively asserts - that it can do as it wishes; that its actions carry no consequences; that it is immortal.
The earlier post is here.

Balance of death in Palestine 2005

Ha'aretz carries the main points of the Amnesty International report on Palestine for the year 2005.
The annual Amnesty International report, released Tuesday, says that there was a marked drop in violence between Israelis and Palestinians in 2005, although there was a continuation of attacks by both sides.

According to the report, some 190 Palestinians, including around 50 children, were killed by Israel Defense Forces, and 50 Israelis, including six children, were killed by Palestinian armed groups.

It states that many of the Palestinian casualties "were killed unlawfully, in deliberate and reckless shootings, shelling and air strikes in densely populated residential areas, or as a result of excessive use of force."

Regarding the Israeli fatalities, the report states that most of the killings were carried out by Islamic Jihad and the Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

The report also says that Israel continued with illegal settlement construction in the West Bank during 2006, despite the summer's withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank.

According to the report, Israel also carried on with construction of the West Bank separation fence on appropriated Palestinian land.

The group mentions "military blockades and restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of Palestinians within the Occupied Territories," which it says led to "high unemployment and poverty."

The report also states that IDF troops carried out "unlawful attacks and routinely used excessive force against peaceful demonstrators protesting against the destruction of Palestinian agricultural land and the Israeli army's construction of the fence/wall."

Attacks on Palestinian farmers by settlers also feature in the report, which says such incidents were frequent, led to the destruction of orchards and prevented farmers from cultivating their land.

The report cites the example of an incident in March and April, in which settlers "spread toxic chemicals in fields around Palestinian villages in the southern Hebron Hills and near Salfit." As a result, the report says, the farmers could not make use of milk, cheese and meat produced by their flocks.

The report also says that, "IDF soldiers and settlers responsible for unlawful killings and other abuses against Palestinians and their property generally had impunity."

The revolution will be televised

I got this film from the Information Clearing House. It's actually called "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" by Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain
Their film records what was probably history's shortest-lived coup d'état. It's a unique document about political muscle and an extraordinary portrait of the man The Wall Street Journal credits with making Venezuela "Washington's biggest Latin American headache after the old standby, Cuba."

Chavez, elected president of Venezuela in 1988, is a colorful folk hero, beloved by his nation's working class and a tough-as-nails, quixotic opponent to the power structure that would see him deposed. Two independent filmmakers were inside the presidential palace on April 11, 2002, when he was forcibly removed from office. They were also present 48 hours later when, remarkably, he returned to power amid cheering aides.
I don't know how to download the film but according to the comments there is a DVD available.

US ambassador to the UN is Israel's ambassador to the UN

According to Reuters, Israel's ambassador to the UN has praised US ambassador, John Bolton, as being a part of Israel's team.
Ambassador Dan Gillerman, addressing a New York meeting of B'nai B'rith International, a Jewish humanitarian organization, heaped praise on U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, jokingly describing him at one point as a secret member of Israel's own team at the United Nations.
Not the best kept secret and not the funniest joke if it was a joke at all.

May 22, 2006

David Duke and the Founding Fathers?

Those who have followed the Mearsheimer and Walt controversy will know that various prominent zionists made much of the fact that David Duke (the former Ku Klux Klan leader) praised the article. Well here's a quite old article that mentions just where such reasoning can lead. It was by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post back in April.
On April 5, for instance, The Post ran an op-ed, "Yes, It's Anti-Semitic," by Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a respected defense intellectual. Cohen does not much like a paper on the Israel lobby that was written by John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University. He found it anti-Semitic. I did not.

But I did find Cohen's piece to be offensive. It starts by noting that the paper, titled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," had been endorsed by David Duke, the former head of the Ku Klux Klan. It goes on to quote Duke, who, I am sure, has nodded his head in agreement over the years with an occasional piece of mine, as saying the paper is a "modern Declaration of American Independence." If you follow Cohen's reasoning, then you would have to conclude that David Duke and the Founding Fathers have something in common. I am not, as they say, willing to go there.
I should point out here that Ronald Reagan said that the murderous Nicaraguan Contras were the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers. Now a zionist, in order to protect Israel and its supporters from criticism has likened a Klansman to them. Does this criminalise the Founding Fathers? Or does it confer respect on the Klan? It doesn't matter but it does show that the founders of America as we now know it can be insulted or the Klan can be promoted in the American media in order to insulate Israel from criticism. And how long can that continue without some general readers noticing?

Ironically, the guy who wrote the WP article didn't agree with the M & W piece, he just didn't like the way its detractors smeared the authors.

Israeli war crimes against Brits?

The UK's Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, is flying out to Israel today, according to the Guardian, to investigate the killing of two British citizens: Tom Hurndall and James Miller. The primary reason for Goldsmith's visit isn't quite clear as it is said that he is
flying out to give a lecture, but would also take the opportunity to meet Israeli ministers and high-ranking military officials to try to ascertain the full facts on the deaths.

Speaking before he left for Tel Aviv yesterday, he said: "The meetings are being set up through usual diplomatic channels and I have every reason to think the Israeli authorities will be open and give me full cooperation. I need to consider myself whether there ought to be prosecutions here in either of these cases."
I'm not sure what gives him "every reason to think the Israeli authorities will be open and give me full cooperation" given the various attempts at a cover-up by Israel and the fact that no Israeli official would attend a coroner's court in the UK recently.

May 21, 2006

Jews against zionism

This is the leaflet distributed by Jews against zionism at the rally on Saturday.


Today’s demonstration marks the 58th anniversary of the Nakba – the catastrophe of the creation of the state of Israel over the ruins of Palestine. Since then, the Palestinian people have remained dispossessed, divided, and oppressed, while Israel has become the world’s fourth-largest military power.

For most of this time, Israel has ruled over the 1967-occupied territories (the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights) as well as the areas which it occupied in 1948. The Palestinians in these areas have suffered 39 years of brutal military rule, and the continuing theft of their land for Israeli settlements and “security needs”.

Jews Against Zionism calls for the immediate, complete and unconditional end of the 1967 occupation. At the same time, we recognise that this will not resolve the conflict and bring justice to the millions of victims of the 1948 occupation.

The establishment of the state of Israel saw the expulsion of ¾ million Palestinians and the theft of millions of acres of their land. These Palestinians, and their descendants, now live in exile, or in the miserable refugee camps of the West Bank and Gaza. Despite repeated UN resolutions, Israel has adamantly refused to allow any of these Palestinians to return.

Jews Against Zionism supports the Palestinian Right of Return, and recognises that without steps towards the implementation of this right there can be no prospect of a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The stolen land – both private property and public land – was handed over by Israel to a body called the Jewish National Fund. This body, a registered charity in Britain and elsewhere, states that its object is “charitable purposes which are beneficial to persons who are of Jewish religion, race or origin”. Through this manoeuvre, over 90% of the land in the state of Israel – most of it stolen from the original Palestinian residents – has been made available to Jews only. Palestinian citizens of Israel are not allowed to live on this land.

Jews Against Zionism calls for the abolition of this and all other discriminatory
legislation in Israel, the dismantling of the Zionist structure of the Israeli state and full equality for all, regardless of ethnic/religious background or self-definition.

On the anniversary of the theft of Palestine, we reaffirm our opposition to the Zionist project, and to the dispossession and division of the Palestinian people. We call for a unitary, secular and democratic Palestine, the return of Palestinian refugees, and full and equal rights for Palestinians, Israeli Jews, and all other people living in the whole of Palestine.


Zionism, which purported to offer European Jews an escape route from persecution and suffering, has proved to be a cruel trap. Not only has it colonised Palestine and dispossessed the Palestinian people; it has also misled and oppressed Jews, and hijacked Jewish communities. Jews Against Zionism rejects this movement and ideology, which we see as profoundly racist, in its views and its practices, towards Jews as well as non-Jews.

As anti-Zionist Jews, we recognise the enormous suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Zionist movement. We stand alongside them in their struggle for return and self-determination, and against the brutal occupation and the racist state of Israel. We work for a future Palestine in which Palestinians, Israelis and others, of any religion or none, Arabic or Hebrew speaking, will live in equality.

Although Zionism purports to be a reaction to racism, and in particular the murderous European anti-Jewish horrors of the 19th and 20th centuries, in reality it represents a capitulation to this racism. The Zionist movement argued that Jews could not fight against European racism. The only possible response was to leave Europe, and to establish an exclusive Jewish state. Many Zionists, from Theodor Herzl on, even argued that anti-Jewish racism was justified, since European Jews led abnormal lives, and could not be absorbed into European society.

This frequently led Zionist leaders into collaboration with the worst anti-Jewish racists. As Zionist leader Jacob Klatzkin wrote: “If we do not admit the rightfulness of anti-semitism, we deny the rightfulness of our own nationalism. . . Instead of establishing societies for defence against the anti-semites, who want to reduce our rights, we should establish societies for defence against our friends who desire to defend our rights”.

This collaboration reached its cynical peak during the Nazi period, when Zionist leaders obstructed rescue efforts by non/anti-Zionist Jews and put pressure on western governments not to admit Jews fleeing Germany, since this would render the Zionist project obsolete. Some Zionist leaders even directly collaborated with Nazi Germany, seeking to save the young and healthy Zionists while deceiving the others about their likely fate.

Opposition to Zionism thus requires also a principled opposition to anti-Jewish racism. We should not let the Zionists get away with the lie that they represent the interest of Jews, and we must ensure that racism plays no part in our struggle for a unitary, democratic and secular Palestine with equal rights for all.

Zionism both oppresses the Palestinians, and betrays the Jews.

Jews Against Zionism 20 May 2006

Israel Defence Minister approves illegal colonial expansion

Not exactly shock news but the Defence Minister here is the new darling of the zionist left (after Ariel Sharon) Amir Peretz. This is from Ha'aretz:
Defense Minister Amir Peretz has approved expansion of four West Bank settlements, the first such approvals under his tenure.

The expansion orders enlarged the settlements' "jurisdictional area," a designation which in many cases serves as a prelude to construction of new settlement neighborhoods.

Most of the settlements involved are located close to the pre-1967 war Green Line border.
So that's alright then, the local natives will be used to colonial settlement.

Keeping Israel Jewish

Ynet News carries a Reuters report on how an anti-abortion group in Israel is seeking to counter the "demographic threat."
In the 58 years since its founding, few issues have stalked the state of Israel like demographics - the fear that Arabs may some day outnumber Jews.

Responding to an issue that Israelis often refer to as "the demographic threat", a non-profit Jewish group is encouraging poor, pregnant Jewish women who might be considering having an abortion to go ahead and have a child instead.

Set up 29 years ago by Eli Schussheim, a surgeon, the Efrat organization offers women $1,000 (NIS 4,500) of support for a year, including diapers, a crib and baby clothes, if they decide to give birth rather than terminate their pregnancies.

It is one of a range of groups whose guiding principle is to prop up Israel's Jewish population amid statistics showing that the Arab birthrate is twice that of Jewish families.

According to government figures, Israel's population is just over seven million people, three-quarters of whom are Jewish.

But the Arab minority, about a fifth of the population, is growing rapidly, as are Palestinian communities under Israeli occupation. Some projections say Arabs will be a majority in Israel and the West Bank by 2020 unless action is taken.

"The demographic situation is getting worse all the time," says Schussheim, 64, who was born and raised in Argentina. "Every child we can save makes a difference."

Schussheim says he started the organization shortly after changes were made to Israel's abortion laws in the late 1970s.

While he considers himself "pro-choice", he says too many Jewish women end up making the wrong choice because of economic hardship and terminate their pregnancies.
And just to get a sense of proportion here are some stats from the article:
"It's a constant struggle to maintain the Jewishness of the state, but saving Jewish lives helps us in that struggle."

Whereas terrorist attacks killed an average of one person a week in Israel last year, and car crashes nine people every seven days, Efrat says 900 babies a week were destroyed.

"Imagine how much stronger Israel would have been demographically today with one million more Jews," the organization says on its website. "Supporting Efrat is the most direct way one can strengthen Israel and the Jewish people."
So choose life and make Israel stronger, demographically speaking that is.

Israel's singular criminality?

Here's Mike Marqusee, in the Guardian's "Comment is free" space, on "who's singling out Israel?
"who's actually doing the singling out? Israel's advocates argue that its security situation and its role as a Jewish state are unique, and imply that it is therefore permitted to do things that are clearly prohibited to other states (land seizures, house demolitions, assassinations, mass detentions). Those who demand that Israel conform to international law and standards of human decency are challenging this kind of singling out, calling for an end to Israel's special exemption.

The US singles out Israel for military and diplomatic support. Over the last 30 years it has been by far the largest recipient of US foreign aid. The US also regularly uses its security council veto to shield Israel from condemnation. And Israel is the only country in the region permitted by the US to possess nuclear weapons.

Since the US's aggressive global posture provokes extreme disquiet in many parts of the world, it's not surprising, unjustified or anti-semitic that its closest ally in the Middle East is widely viewed not as a rogue regime but as part of a larger system of domination - and as a prime example of western double standards. In a world shaped by western domination and resistance to it, the Israel-Palestine conflict is correctly seen as pivotal.

Britain also singles out Israel for support. Annual UK arms sales to Israel have doubled over the last year to £25m, and since 2000 the UK has sold £70m worth of arms to Israel, including tanks, helicopters, mines, rockets, machine guns, teargas, leg irons, components for fighter jets and surface-to-surface missiles.

Yet Jack Straw argued that aid to the PA had to be cut because taxpayers did not want their money funding terrorism. Meanwhile Olmert declares: "I believe with all my heart in the people of Israel's eternal historic right to the entire land of Israel" - meaning up to (or even beyond) the Jordan - and is praised for a willingness to compromise. Hamas retains a claim to the same territory, with roots in living memory rather than Biblical mythology, and is subject to punitive sanctions.
The whole article is well worth a read and a peek at the comments shows that the myths of zionism are still adhered to quite doggedly by Israel's supporters.

Rabbi against the Lobby

Here's a south Florida rabbi, Bruce Warshal, agreeing with the Israel Lobby article/essay by John Walt, the academic dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and John Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago.
Coming from South Florida, I am acutely aware that our government policy toward Cuba is dictated by the Cuban Lobby. Why else would we have such an absurd opposition to Castro? If we can make peace with Red China and the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union, why do we continue an embargo against an obscure Communist island, if it were not for domestic political pressure? So it is with the Jewish domestic lobby. My complaint is that the self-appointed Jewish leaders who control AIPAC and other positions of power within the Jewish community do not represent the best interests of Jews, Israel or the United States in the long run.

Let's zero in on AIPAC. It is controlled by right-wing, rich Jewish neo-conservatives. As one manifestation of the truth of this assertion one merely has to look at its annual meeting this past month. At a time when Vice President Cheney's popularity has dropped below 20 percent, the 4,500 delegates to the AIPAC convention gave him a standing ovation for almost a minute before he even opened his mouth and then proceeded to give him 48 rounds of applause in a 35-minute speech. (As my colleague Leonard Fein pointed out, that's once every 43.7 seconds). Considering that 75 percent of American Jews voted for Kerry, it is obvious that these people are out of the mainstream of Jewish thought.

At the same conference, preceding the recent Israeli elections, these delegates were addressed by Ehud Olmert (Kadima), Amir Peretz (Labor) and Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) by video link from Israel. Olmert and Peretz received polite applause. The AIPAC delegates cheered enthusiastically for Netanyahu, especially when he presented his hard line that was overwhelmingly rejected by the Israeli electorate. Once a great organization, today AIPAC does not even represent the feelings of the average Israeli, let alone the average American Jew.

This American Jewish neo-conservatism is unhealthy not only for America but for Israel as well. A prime example: The Israeli press reports that Israel is trying to find a way to deal with the Palestinians while not dealing with Hamas. Official public statements aside, they realize that they cannot cut off all contacts with the Palestinians and that the world cannot discontinue financial help; otherwise Israel will find a million starving Palestinians on its border, and this will not lead to peace or security for Israel. Privately, the Israeli government was against the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act (the Ross-Lehtinen-Lantos bill) which recently passed the House of Representatives. It would cut off all American contacts with the Palestinian Authority, even with its president Mahmoud Abbas, who is a moderate seeking peace. Despite Israel's private reservations, AIPAC not only pushed this bill, it was instrumental in writing it. Even though the AIPAC candidate lost in Israel, he won in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hopefully, the Senate and the White House will correct this.

Beware that you are reading treasonable material. If you "out" the Israeli lobby and you are Gentile, you're branded an anti-Semite; if you are Jewish, you're obviously a self-hating Jew. The Jewish establishment abides no criticism of Israel. You don't agree with me? Take this example: Last month a pro-Palestinian play entitled My Name is Rachel Corrie was to open at the New York Theatre Workshop, a "progressive" company on East Fourth Street. The play is based on the writings of a young British girl who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer when she was protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza two years ago. Although the play was widely praised in London last year, it never opened in New York. The theater producers spoke to the ADL and other Jewish leaders, including big-money Jews on its board, and that was the end of that. But, of course, we don't "censor" discussion concerning Israel. We just politely give our opinions and the voice of the other side disappears.

Another example: 400 rabbis, including myself, signed a letter sponsored by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom that appeared in the Forward this past month. It was a mildly liberal statement that proclaimed that "we are deeply troubled by the recent victory of Hamas," but went on to urge "indirect assistance to the Palestinian people via NGO's, with the appropriate conditions to ensure that it does not reach the hands of terrorists." Pretty mild stuff. Yet pulpit rabbis across this country who signed the letter have reported a concerted effort to silence them. The letter has been branded a "piece of back-stabbing abandonment of the Jews of Israel." Synagogue boards have been pressured to silence their rabbis by that loose coalition called the "Israel Lobby."

Just another example of the Jewish establishment stifling any discussion of Israel that does not conform to the neo-conservative tenets of AIPAC and its cohorts. Beware of these self-appointed guardians of Israel and Jewish values. In the end they will destroy everything that makes Judaism a compassionate religion, and if in their zeal they do not destroy Israel, they certainly will not make it more secure.
Meanwhile the New York Review of Books has a review of the reviews by a chap called Michael Massing. In it he seems to be criticising M & W's detractors while giving credence to aspects of Alan Dershowitz's critique on the ethnic requirement for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. This is described by Massing as "embarrassing" as he claims they overlook Israel's Arab population. M & W don't overlook Israel's Arab population in either their original article or their response to their critics two editions of the LRB after their article appeared. He also takes them to task over quoting Ben Gurion out of context. This is, of course, an attack on their integrity within an article pretending to be a criticism of the misrepresentation of M & W. The Ben Gurion quote was used to demonstrate that whilst the zionists publicly accepted the partition of Palestine, Ben Gurion clearly expected Israel to conquer the rest of Palestine and possibly more at some time in the future after the state had built a powerful army. This is beyond dispute now and it ill-behoves academics and serious journalists to cast any doubt on it. If Massing was telling them to find more of the telling quotes from Ben Guerion I could accept his criticism. But he isn't. He is implying that the fledgling Israel had no expansionist plans for the rest of Palestine after the State of Israel was established. This is complete tosh and a clue to that fact should have been that it was Professor (unbelievable!) Alan Dershowitz who said it.

May 20, 2006

Democrat Rep stands up to AIPAC

First M & W, now this. A member of the US House of Representatives has actually stood up to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for accusing her of "support for terrorists." This is from the New York Review of Books.


By Betty McCollum

The letter below was sent by Representative Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota, to the executive director of AIPAC. The bill mentioned, H.R. 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, would place so many restraints on aid to the Palestinian people, and so many restrictions on the administration's ability to deal with the Palestinians, that even the State Department has opposed it. AIPAC has strongly backed it. The Senate version of the bill, S. 2237, would allow the administration far more flexibility. On April 6, the House International Relations Committee passed H.R. 4681 by a vote of 36 to 2; McCollum was one of the two nays. As of May 11, AIPAC has yet to respond to her demand for an apology.

—Michael Massing

April 10, 2006
Mr. Howard Kohr
Executive Director
American Israel Public Affairs Committee
440 First Street, NW; Suite 600

Washington, D.C. 20001
Dear Mr. Kohr:
During my nineteen years serving in elected office, including the past five years as a Member of Congress, never has my name and reputation been maligned or smeared as it was last week by a representative of AIPAC. Last Friday, during a call with my chief of staff, an AIPAC representative from Minnesota who has frequently lobbied me on behalf of your organization stated, "on behalf of herself, the Jewish community, AIPAC, and the voters of the Fourth District, Congresswoman McCollum's support for terrorists will not be tolerated." Ironically, this individual, who does not even live in my congressional district, feels free to speak for my constituents.

This response may have been the result of extreme emotion or irrational passion, but regardless, it is a hateful attack that is vile and offensive to me and the families I represent. I call on AIPAC to immediately condemn this un-American attack and disavow any attempt to use this type of threat and intimidation to stifle legitimate policy differences. I will not stand to be labeled or threatened in a manner that questions my patriotism or my oath of office.

Last week, I did vote against H.R. 4681 during mark-up of the bill in the House International Relations Committee. As a Member of Congress sworn to uphold the Constitution, and ensure the security of the US and represent the values and beliefs of the constituents who I serve, it was my view that H.R. 4681 goes beyond the State Department's current policies toward Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and potentially undermines the US position vis-à-vis the coordinated international pressure on Hamas. The language contained in S. 2237 accurately reflects my position.

Keeping diplomatic pressure on Hamas to renounce terrorism, recognize the State of Israel, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, and honor past agreements and treaty obligations, while preventing a humanitarian crisis among the Palestinian people, are all policy goals already strongly supported by myself, the Bush administration, Congress and the American people. But, if the purpose of H.R. 4681 was to send another strong message to Hamas and the Palestinian people, as Congress already has sent with the passage of S. Con. Res. 79, then I disagree with the vehicle for that message. In my opinion, Congress should be articulating clear support for the Secretary of State's present course of action; not creating a new law which likely diminishes the diplomatic tools needed to advance US policy goals with regard to the Palestinian people, potentially cuts US funding to the United Nations, and largely restates current law while creating on-going and burdensome unfunded reporting requirements.

As you well know, in Congress we do not shy away from condemning the vile words of despots and dictators who use anti-Semitism as a weapon to incite hatred, fear and violence. AIPAC should not have a lower standard for persons affiliated and representing its organization when they label a Member of Congress who thinks for herself and always puts the interest of our nation and people first a supporter of terrorists.

You and your colleagues at AIPAC have the right to disagree with my position on any piece of legislation, but for an AIPAC representative to say that I would ever vote to support Middle East terrorists over the interests of my country will never be tolerated by me or the families I serve. This incident rises to a level in which a formal, written apology is required.

Mr. Kohr, I am a supporter of a strong US–Israeli relationship and my voting record speaks for itself. This will not change. But until I receive a formal, written apology from your organization I must inform you that AIPAC representatives are not welcome in my offices or for meetings with my staff.
Betty McCollum
Member of Congress
Washington, D.C.

4th District, Minnesota
Note how she has to say she supports a strong relationship between the US and Israel but this is surely a start. It will be interesting to see if her "voting record" changes at all without AIPACers in her office or meeting with her staff.

Lenin on another "America's enemy equals Hitler" ruse

The Canadian National Post seems to have invented a story about Iran being poised to insist that Jews wear insignia to show that they are Jews. I wouldn't have troubled with this but a commentor posted about it here and then another one asked if I had seen the story. I couldn't be bothered to anatomise it so I've let Lenin of the Tomb do the donkey work and the denunciations. I've just nicked the pics here:


and here

Juan Cole (thanks to Greg Potemkin) links to The Australian's report of a Jewish Member of the Iranian parliament denying the rumours of the special clothing for religious minorities issue.

Free Palestine today!

Palestine Demonstration 20th May 2006

EU/Israel - Stop Starving Palestinians
Recognise Palestinian Democracy
End Israel's Occupation

DEMONSTRATE Saturday 20 May
Assemble 12noon, Embankment
Rally in Trafalgar Square

Organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Association of Palestinian Communities, Palestine Return Centre, British Muslim Initiative, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Stop the War Coalition

Supported by Just Peace UK, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Muslim Association of Britain, Pax Christi, Freedom and Justice for Samar and Jawad, Arab Media Watch, War on Want, RMT, Unison, GMB, NUM, CWU, NUJ, PCS, NATFHE,  1990 Trust


The Palestinian people need your help Israel's brutal occupation of the Palestinian people is creating a humanitarian crisis.

The Israeli government has decided to strengthen the economic blockade of the Palestinian people. Dov Weisglass, the Israeli prime minister's adviser, joked: 'It's like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won't die'.

a. According to a January 2006 UN report, 64% of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are living below the poverty line.

b.. In Gaza, 40% of children suffer from malnutrition because of the Israeli occupation. John Ging, director of UN operations there, said: 'This is the first time bread has been rationed.There's no sugar, oil, milk, the basics.'

c.. A UN report in September 2005 said that 60 Palestinian women had given birth at Israeli checkpoints since 2000 and 36 of their babies died as a result.

d.. Since September 2000, over 3,800 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army and settlers, and over 29,000 injured.

e.. Israel is building an Apartheid Wall that, when completed, will annex East Jerusalem and almost half of the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians imprisoned in a series of ghettos.

f.. Over half of the Palestinian population were expelled from their homes in the 1947-49 war, and a second wave of refugees was created in 1967. Today, two-thirds of Palestinians are refugees.

Israel must:

a.. abide by international law
b.. acknowledge Palestine's right to exist
c.. recognise the democratically elected government of Palestine
d.. end the illegal occupation
e.. remove settlers
f.. dismantle the Apartheid Wall
Help us send a clear message - write to your MP and MEP for support

Also posted to Lenin's Tomb

Rewriting Mearsheimer and Walt

A quick update on the Mearsheimer and Walt LRB business. Here's a passage from the original piece:
Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical. Some Americans believe that this was a war for oil, but there is hardly any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure. According to Philip Zelikow, a former member of the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and now a counsellor to Condoleezza Rice, the ‘real threat’ from Iraq was not a threat to the United States. The ‘unstated threat’ was the ‘threat against Israel’, Zelikow told an audience at the University of Virginia in September 2002. ‘The American government,’ he added, ‘doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell.’
And here's a passage from Philip Zelikow's denial of that passage in the orginal piece:
First, like most of the world, I did think that, if Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons, this would endanger the interests of America and the world in several ways, including the direct threat of a possible strike on Israel. Second, I did not state an opinion about whether this should be a cause for war in 2002-03. Third, I did not state an opinion – or even have any special knowledge – about the motives of the Bush administration in going to war in 2003.
And here's Mearsheimer and Walt's response that appears below Zelikow's letter in the latest edition.
Philip Zelikow claims he did not say in September 2002 that the present war in Iraq was motivated in good part by concerns about Israel’s security. He suggests that our reference to his remarks came from an unreliable source and says we ‘misused’ his comments. He implies that he was talking mainly about the 1990-91 Gulf War, not the US decision to invade Iraq in March 2003. Furthermore, he maintains that he ‘expressed no view’ on ‘whether or when the US ought to go to war with Iraq’. None of these assertions is correct.

Emad Mekay, who wrote the Asia Times Online article we referenced, is a well-regarded journalist who worked for Reuters and the New York Times before moving to Inter Press Service, a legitimate news agency. He did not rely on ‘local reports’ in writing his story, but had access to a complete and unimpeachable record of Zelikow’s talk. He repeatedly tried to contact Zelikow while writing his story, but his inquiries were not returned.

Below are excerpts from Zelikow’s remarks about Iraq on 10 September 2002 (we have the full text). It shows that 1. he was focusing on the possibility of war with Iraq in 2002-03, not the 1990-91 Gulf War; 2. he supported a new war with Iraq; and 3. he believed Iraq was an imminent threat to Israel, but not to the United States.

Finally. . . I wanted to offer some comments on Iraq. . . . I beg your patience, but I think there are some points that are worth making that aren’t being made by either side in the current debate.

The Iraq situation this administration inherited is and has been unsustainable. Ever since 1996 the Iraqi situation has basically unravelled. . . . So then the real question is, OK, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to end up fixing it? And if you don’t like the administration’s approach, what’s the recommended alternative?

Another thing Americans absorb, and this administration especially, is the lesson of Afghanistan. Because remember we knew that international terrorist groups were plotting to kill Americans in a sanctuary called Afghanistan. . . [I]n retrospect, it is perfectly clear that only . . . an [American] invasion could reliably have pre-empted the 9/11 attacks, which relied on people who were being trained in that sanctuary . . . So what lesson does one take from that with respect to Iraq? Well you can see the lesson this administration has taken from that example. And so contemplate what lesson you take.

Third. The unstated threat. And here I criticise the [Bush] administration a little, because the argument that they make over and over again is that this is about a threat to the United States. And then everybody says: ‘Show me an imminent threat from Iraq to America. Show me, why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us?’ So I’ll tell you what I think the real threat is, and actually has been since 1990. It’s the threat against Israel. And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it’s not a popular sell.

Now . . . if the danger is a biological weapon handed to Hamas, then what’s the American alternative then? Especially if those weapons have developed to the point where they now can deter us from attacking them, because they really can retaliate against us, by then. Play out those scenarios . . . Don’t look at the ties between Iraq and al-Qaida, but then ask yourself the question: ‘Gee, is Iraq tied to Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the people who are carrying out suicide bombings in Israel?’ Easy question to answer, and the evidence is abundant.

Yes, there are a lot of other problems in the world . . . My view, by the way, is the more you examine these other problems and try to put together a comprehensive strategy for America and the Middle East, the more I’m driven to the conclusion that it’s better for us to deal with Iraq sooner rather than later. Because those other problems don’t get easier . . . And the Iraq problem is a peculiar combination at the moment, of being exceptionally dangerous at a time when Iraq is exceptionally weak militarily. Now that’s an appealing combination for immediate action . . . But . . . if we wait two years, and then there’s another major terrorist attack against the United States, does it then become easier to act against Iraq, even though the terrorist attack didn’t come from Iraq? No. . . . [A]t this moment, because of the time we bought in the war against terror, it actually makes it easier to go about Iraq now, than waiting a year or two until the war against terror gets harder again.
In sum, it is Zelikow, not us, who is attempting to rewrite history. He was admirably candid in 2002, but not in 2006.

John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt
An advisor to Condoleezza Rice has taken time out to deny something that is matter of public record. This M & W article, flawed as it may be, has the zionist veering from concern to blind panic.

May 19, 2006

Jewish Chronicle takes on the Holocaust Industry

I don't know how long the JC has been running a "subscription free" zone but I've only just discovered it. Here's today's front page.

The man on the left earns $437,811 a year handling Shoah claims. So why are so many survivors pleading poverty?


By Jenni Frazer and Simon Rocker

This story is from – the website of The Jewish Chronicle Newspaper.

The international body primarily responsible for distributing compensation to Holocaust survivors is under pressure to explain its spending policies and the remuneration of its officials.

Writing in today’s JC, British academic Michael Pinto-Duschinsky questions the salaries paid by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany to its senior staff. In particular, he highlights the $437,811 (£240,000) in salary and pension awarded to its highest-paid official, executive vice-president Gideon Taylor, according to the latest available figures from 2004, revealed for the first time today by the JC.

Dr Pinto-Duschinsky, who advised British survivors in compensation claims in the 1990s, insisted: "It is wrong for the executive vice-president to earn annually the same as the compensation for several hundred former slave labourers. The moral authority of the leading Jewish organisations is gravely weakened by excessively high salaries for top officials."

Another veteran campaigner on behalf of Holocaust survivors, London businessman Martin Stern, said: "The salaries are not commensurate with the figures which are being paid to the people who suffered."

But Abe Biderman, chairman of the Claims Conference’s personnel and management committee, said the salaries were "at and below the equivalent salaries of comparable Jewish organisations." A large part of the senior staff salaries were reimbursed "from funders of the programmes administered by the Claims Conference." Total administrative expenses, he said, were less than 2.5 per cent of funds distributed in 2004.

There has been criticism, too, of the way the Claims Conference spends money on funding educational and "remembrance" programmes when many believe that the increasing needs of ageing survivors are not being met. The committee in charge of the allocations meets in New York next Monday to decide on the next cycle of distributions.

Chief among the critics, remarkably, is the treasurer of the Claims Conference, Roman Kent, who told the JC: "Survivors are suffering. Our only priority should be the survivors, and everything else should be secondary. We are spending money for thousands of projects, but the health of the survivors can't wait. They are dying daily." Mr Kent, himself a survivor, added: "I'm not saying that these are bad programmes, but they can wait - or else they should be the responsibility of the world Jewish community, not the Claims Conference."

Mr Stern agreed. Querying whether the Claims Conference should be making £9.1 million of grants to educational organisations rather than to survivor care, he pointed out: "At the moment in Israel alone, we have a 65 million shekel shortfall (£7.8 million) in home care for aged Holocaust survivors who are ill. That should be a priority."

In a separate controversy, New York lawyer Professor Burt Neuborne has applied for $4.1 million in fees - charging $700 an hour — for work he did in applying a complex $1.2 billion legal settlement against the Swiss banks.

Some Holocaust survivor organisations in the US have filed an objection to Professor Neuborne's claim, suggesting that he had announced that he was ready to work pro bono (free). Leo Rechter, of the National Association of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors, called the fees claim "a mockery" and "tragicomic."

But an angry Professor Neuborne told the JC that the criticism was "absolutely unwarranted," insisting that he had waived a $10 million fee for securing the settlement, and that he had put in "seven years and 8,000 hours to make the settlement work. It is a flat-out lie that I said I would do [the latter] work pro bono. The criticism is truly disgraceful."

Claims Conference executive vice-president Gideon Taylor told the JC that there were "two schools of thought" on the allocation of restitution funds. "One says all the money should be used entirely for social welfare needs

"The other says that this is money from those who perished, not from those who survived and that we need to acknowledge and remember those who died.

"Holocaust education is important for future restitution negotiation. The obligation to meet the needs of victims of Nazi persecution is not just that of the Claims Conference, but that of the entire Jewish community. The Jewish world also has to balance its priorities."
The leader comment (also sub free) is here and it's more fascinating than the front page.
The compensation gap

Why is the Jewish Chronicle today giving space to a debate that will make many of our readers instinctively flinch? How could a responsible Jewish newspaper raise questions on sensitive matters that will be seen to offer succour to this community’s enemies? And why, when there are far bigger challenges facing British Jewry, are we appearing to point fingers at a small number of individuals serving in respected and senior roles in well-established institutions mostly based thousands of miles away? Our readers deserve a few answers. When we were presented with some recent salary figures relating to organisations established to further the interests of Holocaust survivors, we were surprised, to say the least, that these apparently generous salary-and-benefits packages had gone unremarked in normally vigilant serious newspapers, both here and overseas. When, further, we discovered the wider pattern of remuneration in the larger, Holocaust-related charities, we became deeply curious. Some of these organisations, whose mission it is to negotiate and distribute compensation for Nazi-era crimes to Holocaust survivors, seemed at the same time to be compensating their own top people somewhat generously, to say the least. And yet… by even choosing to question how these salaries could be justified, when survivors themselves have each typically received only a few thousand pounds, we knew that we would risk causing offence not merely to those banking the paycheques, but to senior communal leaders and a significant part of our readership. So let us explain why, after a great deal of thought and discussion, the JC today questions whether those working to represent survivors’ interests are being as accountable and transparent as they should about the manner in which they distribute their own resources internally.

In highlighting the gross disparity between survivors’ compensation and the pay of those working for them, we are not suggesting in any way that these salaries in themselves are being paid at the expense of monies disbursed to those still burdened with memories of atrocities six decades ago. But we do want to see an honest and informed debate about whether resources are being distributed fairly and openly by those in positions of power. Our concern lies with the survivors, now elderly and often impoverished people whose personal circumstances, in many cases, would shame those of us who profess to care about our fellow Jews. For most of the 700 or so survivors thought to be living in the UK, life is relatively good: they have a National Health Service and in many cases live among warm and generous families and benefit from social support networks. But some of those living in Israel or the United States are facing real hardship in their declining years. As their needs for support and healthcare grow, shouldn’t we all, as a global community of Jews, be anxious to ensure that these welfare needs are met?

The Claims Conference needs to clarify not simply its scale of salaries — which, in the scheme of things, is of limited significance — but how it allocates its funds. With survivors now typically in their 70s and 80s, ought it not to be thinking seriously of freezing those of its programmes which do not directly relate to survivors’ welfare? The Claims Conference should focus on the essential work for which it was set up — looking after survivors. Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, in drawing attention to the disparity between the salaries (and benefits) of some officials and survivors’ restitution, will be accused of making false comparisons. Unlike him, we are not asking executives to take salary cuts simply to demonstrate good faith. However, if they are to retain the trust and respect of the wider Jewish world, they will need to reinforce public confidence that the survivors’ immediate interests are at the heart of their mission. And if our readers have the survivors’ interests at heart, they will join us in our call for transparency and accountability. After the enormous negotiation successes of the mid-1990s, perhaps there has been a sense that the restitution battle has been won. But, for many survivors, the struggle is far from over. As for the criticisms likely to be addressed to this newspaper for putting these matters on the agenda: we are sensitive to these concerns, but see our larger responsibility as one of casting light and spurring debate.
And here's a word from a child survivor (who survived thanks to Rudolph Kasztner):
In the 1990s, I worked for several years with Holocaust survivors in London - former slave labourers of German corporations in Auschwitz and elsewhere - in their quest for compensation and, more importantly, an admission of legal guilt by the corporations themselves. As a baby of 12 months, I had been lucky enough to escape deportation to Auschwitz from a staging camp north of Budapest. I was a member of one of only 20 families (out of 17,000 people who had been rounded up) who had been ransomed as part of the controversial Kastner negotiations with the Nazis.

The campaign by British Holocaust survivors, led by Rudi Kennedy, Roman Halter and other members of Claims for Jewish Slave Labour Compensation, was a sad failure. They were badly let down by senior Jewish organisations, by the Israeli authorities, and by class-action lawyers in the US. The payments achieved for former slave labourers at Auschwitz and other camps are far smaller than the pensions of SS guards. The German companies which had used their slave labour were not obliged to recognise their legal responsibility. Nor were they obliged to release documents about their wartime roles. Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen and Bertelsmann have all refused to provide me with such access.

One complaint of the survivors was that the organisation which had the formal responsibility of representing them - the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany - was more interested in trading in heirless properties in what had been East Germany than it was in pressing their case. In particular, there was a complaint that the head of the German office of the Claims Conference, now dead, had become too closely associated with the German authorities, who were ultimately responsible for providing his salary.

We never managed to find out how much he was paid. Yet it turns out that information about Claims Conference salaries - a closely guarded secret - is now publicly available, if only to those willing to explore deep inside a vast online database of charities’ finances. Spend a little time in the Guidestar database ( and you can download annual returns submitted by US-registered charitable bodies like the Claims Conference. Deep within its latest entry, you can find the salaries of its officers and of its five highest-paid staff.

This information is, for me, pretty devastating. In 2004, the executive vice-president of the Claims Conference took a salary of $360,000 plus nearly $80,000 in pension payments (£240,000 at today’s rates). This compares with the maximum £6,000 compensation for years of slave labour in Auschwitz for a survivor. Considering that the compensation was paid 55 years late, it actually was worth far less - a few hundred pounds when compound interest is taken into consideration.

I appreciate that there are good arguments for the view that the high salaries of top officials of organisations concerned with the Holocaust are (a) justified, (b) do not matter, or (c) ought in any case to be kept confidential. On balance, I am unconvinced by them. I hope that these officials will consider taking significant salary cuts in the interests of the Jewish community.

First, there is the matter of accountability and transparency. It emerges that even Claims Conference board members were unaware of the salaries and benefits of senior staff. Certainly, the Board of Deputies has been unaware of them, even though it sends two representatives to sit on the New York board on behalf of Anglo-Jewry. At the World Jewish Congress, secrecy has gone hand in hand with financial controversy. The WJC is riven by accusations and legal writs, and received a severe reprimand this year from Eliot Spitzer, the attorney-general of New York State. Does the Claims Conference wish to be weakened amid similar accusations of secrecy and controversy?

Second, the salary issue does matter. The moral authority of the leading Jewish organisations is gravely weakened by excessively high salaries for top officials. Even though the Claims Conference devotes less than 3 per cent of its spending to administration, there needs to be some correspondence between the amount of compensation for each survivor and officials’ pay. It is wrong for the executive vice-president to earn annually the same as the compensation for several hundred former slave labourers.

The argument that “you get what you pay for” is invalid. Those engaged in public service should not expect the same financial rewards as those at the top of the commercial and professional trees. A sense of mission and duty is called for in those accepting leadership roles in the community. They should be paid reasonably but not so handsomely that doubts arise about their motives.

This applies with special force to organisations involved in aiding Holocaust survivors. Potential donors need the assurance that the bodies receiving their charitable gifts are transparently run by officials motivated by a sense of dedication.

Finally, what of the argument that Jews ought to refrain from publishing criticisms - even in the Jewish press - of leaders of Jewish organisations? I am painfully aware of the fact that Holocaust denial and far-right websites avidly reproduce such discussions. But self-censorship can be taken too far and can prevent the mature discussions that are needed for the well-being of Jewry. I believe that the Jewish Chronicle is performing a service by reporting the facts that will set in motion a sensible and productive debate about the management of the institutions responsible for representing Holocaust survivors and for safeguarding the memory of the unique crimes committed by the Nazis.

Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, senior research fellow at Brunel University, has written and lectured widely on the financing of political and public bodies
So, a remarkable edition of the Jewish Chronicle and possibly a personal statement by the new editor: Jeff Barak. So what was all that fuss about Norman Finkelstein then? Perhaps it's the way he tells them.